Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, shown in the highlight reel above, will take on Lionel Messi and the rest of the Argentina national team on July 1 in the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup. The possibility of a Swiss win is being called “historic.”
Here’s what you need to know about Benaglio and his chances against Argentina:
1. It’s His Third World Cup
Benaglio was a third-choice call up for the Swiss National Team in the 2006 World Cup. He made his international debut in a friendly match against China. In 2010, he let only one goal slide and played in all three group stages. He was part of the Swiss team that beat 2010 World Cup winner Spain. Benaglio was also captain of the 2012 Swiss Olympic Team.
2. His Current Club Is VfL Wolfsburg
Benaglio signed with German club VfL Wolfsburg on January 22, 2008. He made his debut on January 30, 2008, and helped the team advance to the quarterfinals of the German Cup that year. In 2013, he signed a contract extension and will remain with Wolfsburg until 2016. Before joining Wolfsburg, Benaglio played for Portuguese club Nacional, German club VfB Stuttgart, and Swiss club Grasshopper, where he began his professional career in 1999.
3. He’s Counting on Local Fans to Root for Switzerland
Benaglio said he’s hoping for Brazilian support in the match against Argentina, citing the intense competition between the two national teams. He said, “We will have the support of the Brazilian fans in the stadium. One can feel the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina. It would be nice if it were a Swiss home game.”
Meanwhile, he downplayed the threat Lionel Messi poses for Swiss advancement in the World Cup. He said:
We’ll prepare ourselves to face Messi, as well as their other players, but of course he has the quality to decide games. It will be relatively hard to shut him out, but he’s not the only dangerous player in a very good team. Argentina don’t revolve just around Messi even though he’s their superstar. But we know all about the skills he has and it helps that we’ve seen a lot of him. Both times we have played them recently, we weren’t without chances and we have to believe in our chances this time. To pull off a sensational result, we need an exceptional day from every individual in the team.
4. He Was Skewered After Switzerland’s Loss to France in Group E
Fans were frustrated with Benaglio’s sloppy performance in the qualifying match, which France won 5-2. Citing a lack of coverage, Benaglio was called awful and terrible on the field and only redeemed himself through a penalty save. France went on to defeat Nigeria in a Round of 16 match on June 30.
5. He’s Married With a Daughter
Benaglio and wife Nadine became parents in September 2010 after their daughter, Melija, was born. The pair tried to keep the pregnancy quiet for as long as possible, but Benaglio said in an interview with Credit Suisse the story still surfaced without disclosure from either of them.